Thursday, April 30, 2009

April, my month that wasn't



First of all, I want to thank everyone for their well-wishes after my bike crash. I received lots of cards and some awesome gifts in the mail, and lots of emails and PMs on TE and messages on Facebook. Thank you all so very much. I cannot begin to tell you how moved and grateful I am.

I think I gained a pound or two on Tim-Tams from Australia, courtesy of Leslie. Those things are so good they are evil, and should be categorized as banned substances.

My crash was one month ago Tuesday. I find it hard to believe its been an entire month now, it certainly doesn’t seem that long, April simply flew by.

I think I’m going to call April 2009 "the month that wasn’t". :p

I still don’t remember a thing about the crash, nor about an hour or so beforehand. I don't even remember being taken by ambulance to the clearing at a trailhead in Pt. Reyes National Park, nor being flown from there by helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial hospital.

Lee and I actually drove out to the site of my crash (on Sir Francis Drake Blvd near the eastern edge of Pt. Reyes National Park) a week ago Sunday. Nope, nothing, it was like I had never been there. It was a moderately steep downhill section and the road was fairly bumpy there. At the time of day I passed through it last month, it was partly shaded by trees, somewhat speckled, so the irregularities in the road were probably harder to see. But to be honest I’ve ridden over worse pavement! So no great revelations, I’m still assuming I must have hit a pothole badly, or maybe some pavement came loose as I went over it, or I rolled over something that wasn’t pavement. Perhaps I was distracted by something (darn those shiny objects!), but since no-one was riding with me at that moment, it’ll just be one of life’s little mysteries.

I was at a team get-together last Saturday. I was speaking with one of the assistant coaches who told me that day he was riding with me a ways before the accident. We were carrying on a conversation in which I told him about my work. I even met his wife, who is a park ranger in the national park we were riding through and who was on duty at the time and stopped to say hello. It weirds me out a bit that I remember absolutely none of that!

Anyhow, enough of that. Although I naturally wonder how my crash occurred, and what I could have done to avoid it, I’m actually very glad that I don’t remember the crash or the immediate aftermath. One less bit of baggage for me!

I was in the hospital for four days, two days in the ICU and two days in a regular room. I remember very little of those first couple of days, and the next couple of days, well, I guess they weren’t all that memorable.

I only found out a couple of weeks ago that, for the first day or two, there were some real concerns about my recovery! I had hit my head very hard on the pavement (yep, I was wearing a helmet) and, although I was more or less conscious, I wasn’t really “there”, and they had no good way of knowing how much of my mental acuity would return. I’m told the folks in the ICU were relieved when I got on the phone with my boss on Monday morning and described to him, in reasonably good detail, the patent papers that were due that day that he had to file in my absence (I work as a patent agent). I still think that’s pretty funny, actually – that they revised my prognosis on account of my recall of my patent docket.

My husband Lee was great through all this. He admits he was scared sh*tless those first couple of days, but everyone I spoke to afterwards told me that he kept his head and was a real champ. He stayed at home at night while I was in the hospital, and he had a long drive to and from the hospital each day. He said that the drive, and being at home at night, really helped him keep it together. I cannot imagine what I put him through...

When I got home from the hospital Lee dragged our spare bed downstairs and into the living room, so I could watch TV if I wanted to, and so I wouldn’t need to use the stairs (we have a guest bath downstairs).

Lee took a couple of photos of me a day or two after I got out of the hospital – wow I looked like crap!! The right side of my face was badly scraped up and covered with scabs, yech. I slept a lot for the first couple of weeks, and yeah, surfed the web, but that’s about it.

I’m doing MUCH better now, particularly over the last week or so. I’ve been getting out and seeing friends and basically getting re-acquainted with the world.

My shoulder is almost all healed, it still doesn’t have the complete range of motion back, but it’s close. My face is pretty well healed up and I had the last few stitches removed a couple of days ago. I’ll probably wind up with a bit of scarring on the side of my face near the eye socket, but nothing dramatic – just a small momento.

I still have a bit of double vision, but it’s still going away. I had slightly damaged my fourth cranial nerve, which controls the muscle that points my right eye downward diagonally towards my nose. That particular nerve damages easily, it is a common injury among cyclists, motorcyclists, boxers(!) and others who experience any sort of trauma to the side of the head. When it’s damaged the muscle can’t move the right eye in concert with the left very well, especially if one is looking level or downward (interestingly, I almost never got DV while looking upwards). I saw my opthamologist last week and he says its recovering at a good pace and he thinks it should be pretty well healed within a month. I actually experience DV nowadays mainly in the morning when I wake up, and at night when I’m tired; my vision is generally fine for the rest of the day.

My back – eh, I don’t really know yet. I had a mild compression fracture of the T7 vertebra, and a compression fracture supposedly takes a long time to heal (weeks to months). I’ll be seeing the neuro dr. in a couple of weeks to get some new x-rays taken so he can gauge its recovery. Thankfully, my back has not been painful at all, the worst is that it gets a bit uncomfortable when I’ve been sitting or standing a lot, but that goes away very quickly if I lay down for a few minutes. I last saw the neuro dr a few weeks ago and he said the prognosis for my recovery was very good, and he thought at the time that surgery wasn’t needed. I have no idea yet if I’ll have any sort of chronic back problems coming from this, but time will tell.

I’m wearing that stylin’ brace practically all the time, and I'm relieved to report that no-one has inflicted their Inner Picasso on it yet.

My memory is back to normal, more or less. The doctors had warned Lee that I might be a bit forgetful for the first couple of months, and they were right. I have a bit of trouble remembering names of people I don’t deal with often, names of streets that I don’t frequent, directions to places I don’t go often, that sort of thing –- things that I used to have much less trouble remembering. But that should improve with time. I hope. :D

I’ve been off work ever since the accident and I start back again this coming Monday, although I’ve made a few very brief cameo appearances over the past couple of weeks. Luckily for my boss, I remember my work pretty darn well (although I did have a bit of trouble remembering where on our network I had saved a computer file he was trying to find. Heh heh )

And now, for the really important stuff. I still have no idea when I’ll be biking again, but hopefully it’ll be in a couple of months. And I was getting so strong, darnit!! But I guess I’ll be starting more or less from scratch. Eh, small steps, grasshopper.

And who knows, perhaps I’ll give the Death Ride another try next year.
Smiley from millan.net

1 comment:

spingineer said...

Thanks for the update on how you are doing. I think it really is more scary for the accident victim's friends, more than the actual victim. I know that's how it was when Paula saw my crash, and it really affected them more than myself. It looks like that was how it was with Lee. He is a real trooper, like yourself.

Actually, I still haven't been back to the scene of my accident, but I think I remember more from mine than you of yours.

Take care.

Ron